Drones in STEM Education

Drones are already an integral part of society and will play an even bigger role in years to come. Introducing Drones in the Technologies Curriculum can be a rewarding experience for both teachers and students. Linking real-world Drone applications like agriculture and mining through drone solutions can enable a rich and immersive STEM learning experience.

Readily available Drone platforms like Parrot provide a low barrier-to-entry for teachers new to Drones. These platforms are also a safe alternative as the Drones are small and offer good protection. The Drones have a total flying time of about seven minutes and are quite robust in their construction and very stable in flight. These Drones also come with a built-in camera and ultrasonic ground distance sensor.

The Parrot Cargo Drone platform also provides a great interface for coding these Drones. This capability allows the students to create autonomous programs for the Drones to execute automatically. The coding interface is based on block-coding, Scratch style, and allows for an easy integration of coding for the early school grades. The Drones are coded through Tablets by using an app called Tynker. The Tynker app also includes coding tutorials and applications like game design coding, making this a very versatile platform to be used for coding.

The integration of design with Drones is also a strong opportunity to explore more in detail how Drones operate and fly. Technologies like 3D Printing and 3D Design tools like TinkerCad allows for a very cost-efficient way to explore Drone design.

For grades seven and above where the students already are familiar with block-coding, the next step is ‘Autonomous Vehicles’. These programs are based on a mission planning approach where the students plan and setup missions for either land-based or air-based autonomous vehicles. Integration to sensors is also an interactive way to expand on the STEM learning and explore more advanced electronics and digital systems.

The concept of Autonomous vehicles and sensors can also be expanded into areas like IOT (Internet of Things) where data gathering, analysis and presentation becomes an integral part of the learning experience.

For more details about Drones in STEM Education and teacher Professional Development, please contact STEM Punks on 07 3289 5092 or visit our website www.stempunks.com.au

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